Thursday, March 31, 2016

Rocky Ford Creek Report: The Fish of a Thousand Casts

Wind. Relentless wind. The sky is scrubbed clean by it.


You get to Rocky Ford and park in the lot. The truck shudders in the wind. For the first time ever, you're the only one there.

You wonder as you hike down to the water whether the wind had something to do with cracking this boulder in half.


You take a lesson about coping with the wind from a little blacksnake encountered on the path: stay low.


The wind is blowing downstream. This is the best case scenario. It allows for a right-handed cast--and you're right-handed.  


The pelicans, like the blacksnake, are hunkered down.


You begin casting. You have to work hard to compensate for the wind, and you have to stay alert to duck the flies swirling around your head.

The conditions are less than ideal, but you're confident you can move some fish. You're eager to go back to the honey hole with a brand new blood midge. After ten drifts--or is it twenty?--with absolutely no sign of life, your confidence flags.

You try more nymphs and emergers. You try the standby scud. You go up top with everything from a tiny may to a big muddler. You try fly after fly. Nothing is working.


You cast all afternoon with nothing to show for it. Then, all at once, there's a subtle change. The gusts have backed off just a little. Not the wind. The gusts. The wind is still sweeping across the water, but out of nowhere you see three or four fish rising out in mid-channel.


You just happen to have the Lady on. You've fished her before on this day, several times, unsuccessfully. Now, though, you punch it out to where you saw a rise and get an immediate hit. You miss. You put it back out there and get another hit and a short lived hookup. You try again and this time bring in a fish. As you net it, more fish pop up, so you don't even take the time to pose the fish. You release it as quickly as you can and get the Lady out there again. 


But on one of your casts you snag the Lady out in that cattail island. You have to break it off. Do you blame the wind? Sure.

You have one more. You get it out of the fly box OK, but then you drop it as you're trying to thread the tippet through the eye--and the wind whisks it into the water. It floats away.

Now what? A search yields a somewhat-the-worse-for-wear yellow humpy. That will have to do. You tie it on and comb the riffles.


There we go.


And again.


But that's all she wrote for that humpy. You can't get it to float anymore.


You tie on a nice bushy Adams variant and lay it out.


It bobs on the waves and another fish comes to it.


It's getting dusky. You keep casting and one more fish takes the fly. You play it for several minutes--and it comes undone. It felt like it might have been the fish of the day.


Your casting shoulder is tired, your face is windburned, and your eyes feel gritty. On top of that, the wind is beginning to gust again. You call it a day.


You stuck it out for five hours of steady casting, and were finally able to catch some fish in the last hour of the day.


Just goes to show that sometimes trout are the fish of a thousand casts.

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